Representations of Wilde in Victorian Periodicals and Press

Oscar Wilde made his way into many different magazines, newspapers, and publications throughout his career. This includes PunchThe St. James Gazette, and The Daily Chronicle among others. Each publication was unique in how it portrayed Wilde, although there were similarities throughout.


Chronological table

Displaying 1 - 3 of 3
Date Event Created by Associated Places
17 Jul 1841

First Publication of Punch Magazine

The comedic illustrated magazine was first published as Punch, or the London CharivariThis was in reference to Charivari, an illustrated satire magazine that ran from 1832-1937 and was very popular in Paris. The team that created this first version of Punch included founders Ebenezer Landells (1808-1860) and Henry Mayhew (1812-1887), a few shareholders, and a group of artists and journalists including William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863) and Richard Doyle (1824-1883). This first edition of Punch contained sections poking fun at topics such as Prince Albert (1819-1861), the Parliamentary election in Leeds, and the way that people vote. Punch was viewed as a radical publication at this time and, despite selling 6,000 copies a week, they did not sell enough to cover costs. 


Kallie Dahlman
23 Jul 1881

Punch Comments on Wilde's "Poems"

After Poems first appeared on June 23, 1881, Punch was quick to publish an illustration depicting Wilde’s head in a flower with the quotation “Aesthete of Aesthetes! / What’s in a name? / The poet is Wilde / But his poetry’s tame”. A month after Poems was published, Punch elaborated with a review of the book. The review was titled “Swinburne and Water”, a reference to Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909). Swinburne was an accomplished lyric poet who was known for rebelling against conservative norms. In the review of Wilde’s poems, Wilde is said to have taken pieces from Swinburne’s writings along with the works of other famous poets. Wilde’s poems are described as “aesthetic, but […] not original” and often “unintelligible”. 


Beckson, Karl, and B. C. Southam. “Introduction.” Oscar Wilde (Routledge), Mar. 1997, pp. 1–21. EBSCOhost, 

Kallie Dahlman
Jan 1895

Wilde's Interview with the Robbie Ross

Wilde was interviewed by a representative of the St. James Gazette, Robbie Ross (1869-1918)Ross and Wilde had known each other for over a decade, and had become lovers around 1886, remaining in an open relationship and very close friends until Wilde's death. It is said that Ross was Wilde’s first homosexual relationship, and Ross’s ashes were placed on Wilde’s grave after his deathThe interview took place a month before Wilde’s play The Importance of Being Earnest was first performed on February 14thThey discussed the relation of the artist to the audience, censorship, French dramatic criticism versus English theatrical criticism, French and English actors, past writers’ influence in his work, and The Importance of Being Earnest. 


Fryer, Jonathan. Robbie Ross: Oscar Wilde's Devoted Friend. Carroll & Graf, 2002.

Kallie Dahlman